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Amazon Reveals "Prime Air", Their Plans For 30-minute Deliveries By Drone

samzenpus posted about 8 months ago | from the amazon-air dept.

Businesses 397

Z80xxc! writes "Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos revealed during a CBS 60 Minutes interview that the company is working on a service called 'Prime Air' to deliver packages by autonomous octocopter drones within 30 minutes of hitting the 'buy' button. The plan still requires more testing and FAA approval, but Bezos predicts it'll be available to the public in the next 4-5 years. With a lot of backlash against drones, and some towns even offering bounties to shoot them down, will this technology ever take off, or is this just another one of Amazon's eccentric CEO's fantastical flight ideas?"

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397 comments

Hmmmm (2, Interesting)

wbr1 (2538558) | about 8 months ago | (#45573559)

1. This technology
2.Silk Road 2
3.?????
4. PROFIT!

Re:Hmmmm (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45573577)

1. This technology
2. Drone capable of capturing other drones in flight
3. Arrrr!

Re:Hmmmm (2)

Longjmp (632577) | about 8 months ago | (#45573775)

Best "profit" reply ever!

Re:Hmmmm (1)

BreakBad (2955249) | about 8 months ago | (#45573827)

Why not just have a drone to search for and pick up packages. It may serve some other purposes as well -- I just can't wait to see someone's cat being carried off.

Crime? (4, Insightful)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about 8 months ago | (#45573563)

It seems like it would be a lot easier to steal from a drone than it would be to steal from a person delivering a package.

Re:Crime? (5, Interesting)

Vanderhoth (1582661) | about 8 months ago | (#45573617)

I had the same thought until I realized my wife's Xmas order was left on our front step last week by Canada Post. Normally they just leave a door hanger telling us where and when we can pick up the package.

The drone would be a neat idea if I could have it drop the package in the backyard instead of out front. 30-60 minutes isn't really a bad amount of time to wait for a delivery, on par with Pizza. The major issue being you'd have to be near a deployment center, I imagine the only Amazon deployment centers in Canada are in Toronto and Ottawa.

Re:Crime? (4, Informative)

Nerdfest (867930) | about 8 months ago | (#45573725)

Yeah, I had them leave two new Nexus phones sticking out of the box by the front door. They actually do it all the time, and even left a $1500 laptop sitting there. They, UPS, and others do it all the time. The good part is that I don't know anyone who's ever had something go missing. Yay Canada. I was reading something from someone from eastern Europe who came here about the things he found the most different about this country. Where he was from this was apparently unheard of , as anything left at your door would go missing. I'm guess that in some areas here it would be the same though.

I think having something dropped off by drone would call a lot of attentiopn to it sa well, as for a devemt amount of time it would be quite the novelty.

Re:Crime? (1)

Vanderhoth (1582661) | about 8 months ago | (#45573781)

The good part is that I don't know anyone who's ever had something go missing.

That is an interesting point. My wife sells Regal products, although I don't think I'd understand why someone would want to steal that junk, in three years we've never had a monthly order stolen. I also have never known anyone who's had something taken from their doorstep.

Re:Crime? (3, Interesting)

pspahn (1175617) | about 8 months ago | (#45573809)

UPS once left an order under some shrubs in the front that I didn't notice until several months later and a replacement delivery sent. Ended up doubling the order for free (too bad it was just a pair of nice winter socks, though you can never have too many).

Re:Crime? (1)

Vanderhoth (1582661) | about 8 months ago | (#45574057)

I agree, you can never have too many winter socks.

Re:Crime? (1)

Salgak1 (20136) | about 8 months ago | (#45573999)

Not necessarily "Yay Canada". I live far enough away from a major metropolis that we still leave doors unlocked, and have never had a package disappear. I think it's really more like "Yay Low Population Density". . . .

Re:Crime? (1)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about 8 months ago | (#45573873)

For a lot of people no signature = was never delivered. I think the postal staff get to know whose packages they can put in the kennel safely, and whose need genuine signatures.

Re:Crime? (1)

cdrudge (68377) | about 8 months ago | (#45574133)

I think you're overestimating the intelligence and/or the amount of caring of postal workers. I'm including UPS/FedEx employees in with postal workers.

I've had large and/or heavy enough packages that say "Amazon.com" on the side of them that a reasonable person would expect the contents to be worth something just left on my doorstep.

I've also had a box with a big Dell logo left on my doorstep. It was just a replacement plastic lid for a laptop that was seriously scratched up during some warranty work. But the packaging was about the same size as most laptop packaging. It too just left on the doorstep in the middle of the day with no signature needed.

Re:Crime? (4, Insightful)

ceoyoyo (59147) | about 8 months ago | (#45573629)

Or steal the drone....

Re:Crime? (1, Funny)

DrXym (126579) | about 8 months ago | (#45573665)

Even better, you could steal the drone while you were at it.

Re:Crime? (4, Interesting)

N1AK (864906) | about 8 months ago | (#45573675)

There have been documented cases of people following UPS etc vans and collecting the things they drop off on porches. Given that the person delivering the package can't magically get it inside the house unless it fits through the letterbox or I'm there their security isn't exactly amazing. A drone could drop the parcel in my rear garden without me having to leave my gate unlocked; furthermore it wouldn't be hard to have some kind of coded access box for them to use, or on a simpler level just deliver when they know I'm home so I can accept the item.

I honestly think you'd see a decimation of manual delivery jobs in the UK within less than 2 years of drone style delivery being legalised and viably regulated. It'll be cheaper, faster and offer more convenient delivery times without huge fees; there's basically nothing that manual delivery offers to remotely make up for that.

Re:Crime? (1)

SJHillman (1966756) | about 8 months ago | (#45573735)

In order for this to be feasible on a large scale, you'd need cost effective drones. Cost effective drones would then be available to those same people already going around stealing packages... only now they can do it with a greater degree of access and anonymity. As the technology matures and becomes more acceptable to society at large, we'll probably see mandatory registration of drones that can fly to X height, have Y range or can carry Z payload with registration numbers required to be painted on them in big block letters.

Re:Crime? (1)

Jason Levine (196982) | about 8 months ago | (#45574091)

We've never had a UPS package stolen, but given the UPS drivers in our area, it's only a matter of time. The drivers, no matter how many times we complain, will put the package outside our front door and walk away. They don't ring the doorbell at all even when it's apparent that people are home. (Cars in the driveway, lights on, sounds coming from inside the house.) Luckily, we tend to track our packages and know approximately when they'll be delivered. Still, we've had packages that seemingly were outside for an hour or more before they were discovered. If the doorbell was rung, this would be minutes (if not seconds). Without the doorbell rung, someone could easily run up to our front door, grab the package, and drive off before we ever noticed.

Interestingly, FedEx doesn't seem to have this problem by us. Just UPS.

Re:Crime? (1)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about 8 months ago | (#45574169)

Given that the person delivering the package can't magically get it inside the house unless it fits through the letterbox or I'm there their security isn't exactly amazing.

At least they can hide it though.

A drone could drop the parcel in my rear garden without me having to leave my gate unlocked

Where another drone could pick it up again...

Re:Crime? (1)

dingen (958134) | about 8 months ago | (#45573731)

If I were Amazon I'd mount camera's on the delivery drones and stream the images from them over the internet 24/7. If someone steals or damages the drone, you've got them on video.

Re:Crime? (1)

ziggy_az (40281) | about 8 months ago | (#45573821)

Video is only really helpful if you know who it is you are watching.

Re: Crime? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45574177)

Because this my drones have lasers

Re:Crime? (1)

JanneM (7445) | about 8 months ago | (#45573837)

"it would be a lot easier to steal from a drone"

Steal from a drone?

First time around, order item (A):

Next time around order item (B): http://www.amazon.com/Diamond-Strike-Anywhere-Matches-1-Box/dp/B00DII0BA0/ [amazon.com] >

Crouch in the bushes and use (A) to catch the drone. Then resell it on eBay. Use (B) to burn (A) to get rid of the evidence.

Re:Crime? (1)

JanneM (7445) | about 8 months ago | (#45573863)

..and for whatever reason, Slashdot refuses to show the first link. Just forget it.

I predict... (5, Insightful)

Joce640k (829181) | about 8 months ago | (#45573565)

This is just a free-publicity stunt, timed for Xmas to get the word "Amazon" on all the news channels.

I predict "safety" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45573663)

No drones over my children until they have to mee the same safety standards Airbus and Boeing do. Do we really want a company trying to out Walmart the Walmart logistics flying over our houses?

Re:I predict "safety" (1)

MightyYar (622222) | about 8 months ago | (#45573977)

I agree, though when you do the cost-benefit analysis, the danger of road-bound delivery vehicles cruising around residential neighborhoods and people driving to stores should be considered as well.

Re:I predict... (1)

Maury Markowitz (452832) | about 8 months ago | (#45574221)

+1 million

Absolutely what this is.

my guess is it's hype+leverage (4, Interesting)

Trepidity (597) | about 8 months ago | (#45573569)

It's possible Bezos really means it, but my guess is that two things are behind it:

1. Using the current drone hype to help position Amazon as exciting/technological/futuristic, rather than just a boring logistics company that owns warehouses and brown cardboard boxes. With Google working on self-driving cars, and Elon Musk proposing a hyperloop and working on a reusable rocket, Amazon might want to join the futurology game. Otherwise they risk being seen as a low-margin but very efficient (and high-volume) mass retailer, the online version of Wal-Mart.

2. Provide some leverage in negotiations with the delivery and courier companies they depend on by threatening to bypass them. Amazon may want at least a halfway credible alternative to companies like UPS/Fedex when negotiating rates, something to hang over their head as "if you piss us off enough, we're really going to do it, we're going to just deliver everything with drones".

Re:my guess is it's hype+leverage (3, Interesting)

alexander_686 (957440) | about 8 months ago | (#45574015)

I don’t think it is either of those.

1. Might be right but it does not explain why Bezos is doing it now. Announcing a pie in the sky moon shot is not going to do anything about its perception today. It won’t move stock prices (or, if it does, it will be down) and it won’t change from whom I order today. Yeah, it will have a little halo effect, but not much.

2. Amazon already has a choice between at least 3 different shippers fighting for their business. That a much more effective that a alternative delivery method which may pop up in 4 years’ time. More likely 10.

I am going with a moon shot. A high risk, high reward kind of thing. Amazon has the cash to indulge in these types of activities. Plus we know Bezos likes robots. Amazon bought a pick and pack robot company about 2 years ago.

Oops, it fell. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45573583)

At least they'll finally have a valid excuse for throwing your package on the ground.

Hacker's delight (4, Interesting)

greichert (464285) | about 8 months ago | (#45573607)

How long till people start stealing the drones as they see one landing (by throwing a net on them for instance) and hack the firmware so they have their own drone?

Re:Hacker's delight (4, Insightful)

N1AK (864906) | about 8 months ago | (#45573687)

Roughly as long as it takes for people to start jacking UPS vans when the driver gets out to put the parcel on the porch... Any drone that is going to have permission to do this is going to have tracking and cameras. Some chumps will shoot them or break them but the risk and reward balance is pretty obviously not going to encourage much of it.

Re:Hacker's delight (1)

Nerdfest (867930) | about 8 months ago | (#45573741)

I think throwing people into the mix changes things. People act differenmtly when there are people around, even to the point that apparently a paper silhouette of a person will reduce thefts.

Re:Hacker's delight (3, Funny)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 8 months ago | (#45574071)

I think throwing people into the mix changes things. People act differenmtly when there are people around, even to the point that apparently a paper silhouette of a person will reduce thefts.

You realize Home Alone was not a documentary, right?

Re:Hacker's delight (4, Interesting)

Inda (580031) | about 8 months ago | (#45574043)

The children near me destroy shopping trollies just for the one-pound coin held within the locking mechanism. That coin will buy 2.5 cigarettes.

They'd love to take a hammer and screwdriver to a drone... and then I'd buy it off them.

Re:Hacker's delight (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45573797)

This is the best thing for drug cartels to do.

Stupid media bait (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45573611)

This story nicely demonstrates how the modern media has no time (or desire) to think on their own.

This system is completely impractical. Anyone who has any idea on the capabilities of octocopters can immediately see that this idea is DOA.

- Range is abysmal. If you are not within walking distance of a distribution center, you are not in range of one of these. They could offer 10x better service for those within walking distance of their distribution hub by offering in-situ instant pickup if you are happy to walk to the center.
- Payload is non-existing - 0.5kg is quite a bit for an octocopter. Lets say they make a bigger "cargo" version and manage to quadruple that. 2kg. Too little for anything useful.
- Octocopters are good-weather toys. They cannot be flown in heavy winds. "Sorry, no deliveries today, it's too windy". Yeah. Right.
- The technology just isn't robust enough to be scaled up to meaningful numbers - crashes due to mechanical faults are inevitable, potentially hitting something and as a minimum causing an expensive tech toy wreck for Amazon. Often.

So this is purely a silly story to get Amazon into headlines right around "Cyber Monday" so buyers would remember that Amazon exists.

Re:Stupid media bait (2)

Joce640k (829181) | about 8 months ago | (#45573651)

What about delivering new 'copters to people?

They've been selling quite a few quadcopters lately and this seems an ideal way to get them to people.

Re:Stupid media bait (0)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about 8 months ago | (#45573669)

I'd add:
- Theft would become a trivial and risk-free activity.
- 'Drone stoning' would become a new urban sport whenever they descend for landing.

I can imagine drones having certain delivery niches, but this is not one of them. An aircraft rather than octocopter would be good for making long-range drops to inaccessible places - good in rural areas, isolated settlements, etc. Just fit the cargo with a parachute. And they'd be brilliant in disaster situations where roads are going to be impassible.

Hypothetically, if it were to be made workable, here's how I'd do it:

1. Customer obtains a 'marker' - a piece of paper with a symbol on it. If A4 they can print their own. If it needs to be larger, Amazon can send one via post ahead of time - one marker would do for many, many drone flights.
2. Customer places the marker in a secure location (Back yard, roof if suitable).
3. Drone GPSs to approximate location.
4. Drone lands on marker via optical guidance.
5. Drop cargo, take off, return.

That solves the worst of the theft issues. The drone can fly most of the journey at a high enough altitude that it wouldn't be taken down by anything less than a rifle and skilled sniper, except for the final landing. Still got to deal with the pathetic range, pathetic cargo capacity and mechanical reliability, though.

Re:Stupid media bait (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45573711)

Why would someone risk going to prison to steal a few dollars worth of goods? They will probably have cameras on them...

Re:Stupid media bait (1)

captainpanic (1173915) | about 8 months ago | (#45573923)

You say that as if nothing ever gets stolen from your local convenience store, which no doubt has cameras too? 99.99% of the people wouldn't touch the drone. And 0.01% of the people would make it their source of income.

Here's how it goes: Bunch of people hanging at some streetcorner. They hear a buzzing sound indicating a drone that drops some goods. Up goes the hoodies and the scarf. They follow the sound, and possibly the mandatory lights that the drone has. As soon as it lands, they throw a blanket over it (making the camera useless), or they just ignore the camera altogether. Then they break the drone open with a bit of violence (it won't be difficult, since weight is a big issue for the drone), and they're off.

Re:Stupid media bait (1)

mjr167 (2477430) | about 8 months ago | (#45573755)

Cause it's harder to steal the package after the post man leaves it on my front porch all day than it is to steal it if a robot leaves it on the porch?

Re:Stupid media bait (2, Funny)

RevWaldo (1186281) | about 8 months ago | (#45573683)

It's a simple question of weight ratios. A one kilogram octocoptor could not carry a three kilogram PS4.

.

Re:Stupid media bait (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45573743)

more than 70% of their current delivery weight is within the capabilities of the drone

Re:Stupid media bait (2)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about 8 months ago | (#45573865)

It's a simple question of weight ratios. A one kilogram octocoptor could not carry a three kilogram PS4.

Why not?

Re:Stupid media bait (5, Funny)

Stele (9443) | about 8 months ago | (#45574001)

It could grip it by the HDMI port.

Re:Stupid media bait (3, Informative)

N1AK (864906) | about 8 months ago | (#45573719)

Just because you're self-opinionated enough to think you know something and yet unimaginative enough to not be able to think of anything weighing 2kg or less worth delivering by drone doesn't mean things don't exist.

The last 10+ things I have ordered from Amazon or Ebay are all well below 2kg. The majority of things I buy from them are below 2kg: Books, CDs, DVDs, Games, tablet case, address book, aftershave, diary, USB-Micro USB cable, Radiator keys, plug converter etc. It turns out that bricks aren't the only thing you can order from online stores.

Re:Stupid media bait (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45573957)

Congratulations on refuting one of his four reasons that it's stupid and impractical. The other three still make this idea unfeasible for any large-scale operation.

But good job on that one. Because that was totally the lynchpin.

Re:Stupid media bait (1)

Mr D from 63 (3395377) | about 8 months ago | (#45573737)

This method of delivery would be incredibly energy inefficient.

Re:Stupid media bait (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about 8 months ago | (#45574143)

I agree. Trebuchet development has been woefully stagnant for the past 500 years and this could be the killer app that'll give it the push it needs!

Re:Stupid media bait (2)

Drethon (1445051) | about 8 months ago | (#45573917)

Range isn't an issue. Amazon just has to rent power off of each cell tower in the city, then setup the quad copters to land on the tower for charging. Now the delivery can be handed off between drones, thus increasing the range.

The cost for this delivery method should only be... outrageous.

Re:Stupid media bait (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45573925)

Anyone who has any idea on the capabilities of octocopters can immediately see that this idea is DOA.

That list would include you. You have no idea what you are talking about.

There are regular payload FPV flights currently out to over 3 miles.

There are heavy lift competitions with multicopters that can lift a human being. 2 kg is nothing even for a small copter.

Good weather toys? Your comment on this proves you have no experience with multicopters. In fact multicopters handle wind better than any other small craft.

Octocopters are relatively robust and can still fly with multiple motor losses (although with cargo would be a problem). The technology is rapidly advancing though. I have over 1000 flights on my quadcopter with no maintenance and not a single fault.

Re:Stupid media bait (1)

serviscope_minor (664417) | about 8 months ago | (#45574089)

That list would include you. You have no idea what you are talking about. There are regular payload FPV flights currently out to over 3 miles.

How is this the GP not knowing what he was talking about. He quite clearly stated walking distance as a requirement. 3 miles is perfectly well within walking distance.

You could argue that most people won't walk 3 miles, but it kind of cuts both ways. The only places that a 3 mile range is going to be worth targeting is a high density city where the system could deliver to a lot of people. People in high density cities are used to walking quite a lot since cars are often impractical.

There are heavy lift competitions with multicopters that can lift a human being. 2 kg is nothing even for a small copter.

Yes yes, they're called "helicopters". Some can lift nearly 10 metric tonnes. They're also expensive, require astonishing amounts of maintainance and have a nasty habit of crashing on a regular basis.

As you scale up miniture ones to full size, you will encounter all the same problems.

In fact multicopters handle wind better than any other small craft.

Good job bad weather only means "wind" instead of you know: rain. And wind substantially lowers the range.

Also, imagine what it would be like at the wearhouse. A van can carry a lot of stuff. Imagine a vans worth of stuff being delivered by mimi helicopters of some sort in one hour. The air would be almost solid 'copter.

Sure, I'd love to see that but it does not sound terribly practical.

There's also the problem of landing to deliver the package. Automatically determing landing sites is a really difficult problem in the general outdoor, full of random crap world.

The thing is given maintainance team, size and charging time range and payload you have to compete with vans and bike couriers for this to actually be a practical proposition.

Re:Stupid media bait (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45574195)

Yes yes, they're called "helicopters". Some can lift nearly 10 metric tonnes. They're also expensive, require astonishing amounts of maintainance and have a nasty habit of crashing on a regular basis.

No, I'm talking specifically about multicopters. MUCH less complexity, maintence, and cost than a helicopter. Search for the Turnigy multicopter heavy lift competition.

Good job bad weather only means "wind" instead of you know: rain. And wind substantially lowers the range.

Yet another person with no experience claiming stuff.

Re:Stupid media bait (4, Interesting)

Junta (36770) | about 8 months ago | (#45574217)

There are regular payload FPV flights currently out to over 3 miles.

I assume you meant 30 miles (and the record is currently just shy of 35 miles), 3 miles would be rather sad. That is 30 miles being in the ballpark of record setting RC FPV without payload.

Amazon is suggesting a 10 mile range for their design currently.

now to take the amazon of today and make a technology with a 10 mile range anything more than a 'gee-whiz' factor for urban areas would require a pretty dramatic change. When people think warehouse-level stock with insane coverage, they think 'wal-mart'. The nearest walmart to my parents house is 18 miles as the crow flies. One source claimed the average distance to a wal-mart from average house in US was 30 miles (which I think is a bit far but couldn't find quality data in short notice). Amazon would need a real-estate footprint on the order of 9 times as much as wal-mart to cover the market. Even assuming Amazon only has ambitions to service urban areas, they are still looking at a footprint roughly on the order of wal-mart. Amazon has been eating into brick and mortar in no small part due to having so low a footprint, not having to stock everything everywhere, and so on and so fourth. If Amazon gets some regulatory precedents set for this to happen, Wal-Mart can swoop in and implement it in pretty short order.

Re:Stupid media bait (1)

FuzzNugget (2840687) | about 8 months ago | (#45573953)

So what you're saying is, it's a total flight of fancy.

Re:Stupid media bait (2)

MightyYar (622222) | about 8 months ago | (#45574099)

Range is abysmal.

They seem to claim 10 miles. I'm not sure how they will manage this, but maybe they are counting on continued improvements in battery technology.

Payload is non-existing

They claim the vast majority of their orders are under 5 lbs. (2.25 kg), and that this can haul that much payload.

Octocopters are good-weather toys

They don't address this at all, and it is a very good point.

crashes due to mechanical faults are inevitable

This is true of standard delivery vehicles as well. However, these don't weigh several tons so who knows? They might even be safer and cheaper to insure.

I expect this service would also be pretty expensive. People pay a lot of money for overnight service, it seems reasonable to expect them to pay even more for 30 minute service. This delivery system does not need to be cost-competitive with UPS ground or the Postal Service... it needs to be competitive with FedEx next day service.

Re:Stupid media bait (4, Insightful)

u38cg (607297) | about 8 months ago | (#45574111)

So drive a truck full of octocopters to an area, send them off, ten minutes later they're all back. And something like 80% of deliveries are 2kg. As for wind, obviously it's only useful in suitable climates. But I suspect you're overestimating the amount of wind you get in many majro urban areas.

Re:Stupid media bait (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about 8 months ago | (#45574147)

So drive a truck full of octocopters to an area, send them off, ten minutes later they're all back.

You hope.

Re:Stupid media bait (4, Informative)

rolfwind (528248) | about 8 months ago | (#45574209)

Bezos said in the new 60 minutes, it will handle payloads of 5lbs, enough for 86% of it's sold merchandise.

Second, this system could be used in China sooner than here, and being tested by a large package delivery:
http://qz.com/120654/china-could-become-the-first-country-to-legalize-parcel-delivery-by-drone/ [qz.com]

The technology just isn't robust enough to be scaled up to meaningful numbers - crashes due to mechanical faults are inevitable

The thing has 8 rotors. It needs 4 maybe to fly with stability. It has redundancy out the ass.

Octocopters are good-weather toys. They cannot be flown in heavy winds. "Sorry, no deliveries today, it's too windy". Yeah. Right.

Well, I'm sure amazon will have a zip code system and weather tie-in to mark the where and when availability that shows are hides the "Delivery by Air" button. Since this will be purely a convenience feature with a corresponding fee, it's not a business breaker.

But for me, this type of system would make much more sense in fastfood delivery systems.

Who wouldn't pay a buck or two to have it delivered at the location marked by smart phone GPS, instead of fighting traffic and using up gas/time?

Bravo Bezos for global PR coup (5, Funny)

keysdisease (1093663) | about 8 months ago | (#45573613)

The NY Times, WashPost, BBC, Deutche Welle, Straits Times, South China Morning Post, Sydney Morning Herald and I'm only 1/2 was thru my RSS feeds. Now Starbucks, flying my morning latte through my kitchen window, that would be news!

Until shot down (1)

Gothmolly (148874) | about 8 months ago | (#45573615)

Most things on the drone will be spendy, and well packaged. Shoot them down, pawn the goods, rinse, repeat.

Watch out for "within 4-5 years" (2)

P-niiice (1703362) | about 8 months ago | (#45573623)

Anything that's going to be "available within 4-5 years" is pretty much bullshit. A real plan would have a real date.

Re:Watch out for "within 4-5 years" (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45573647)

Yeah, "5-year plans" are never serious...

Re:Watch out for "within 4-5 years" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45573773)

They are looking at 2015

Re:Watch out for "within 4-5 years" (1)

tgd (2822) | about 8 months ago | (#45573831)

Anything that's going to be "available within 4-5 years" is pretty much bullshit. A real plan would have a real date.

The real date isn't based on technology, its based on FAA licensing.

A real date would prove they didn't know what they were doing.

Australia is trying this too (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45573631)

Somes aussies are trying this idea too, though they're just targeting at books for students at the moment.

http://www.smh.com.au/technology/sci-tech/push-for-liftoff-on-drone-deliveries-in-australia-20131014-2vixx.html

Suggestion (5, Interesting)

Rik Sweeney (471717) | about 8 months ago | (#45573633)

Mount a camera on the drone and let me watch my package flying over the landscape via the "Track my package" option.

Harry Potter gets real! (3, Funny)

Errol backfiring (1280012) | about 8 months ago | (#45573635)

Next up: package delivered by drone will sound a siren if not opened immediately.

Personally, I would like to go back to the good old days when we used owls for that.

my first order (5, Funny)

Chrisq (894406) | about 8 months ago | (#45573659)

will be this [amazon.com] .

Re:my first order (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45573749)

They only will do that for packages weighing 5 lbs

Re:my first order (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45573801)

In that case, I'm ordering this. [amazon.co.uk] (yo dawg!)

too late guys (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45573667)

Obama already has prior art for one-click drone killing of American citizens. No patent for you!

"Autonomous Drone"... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45573671)

There ain't no such thing. Even a Reaper Drone need's a pilot. They can fly stady on a predetermined course from A->B-C, but they aren't autonomous or even remotely intelligent. What "The Bezzos" imagines isn't 4-5 years out, more like 20-25 years...

Re:"Autonomous Drone"... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45574203)

But needs didn't need an apostrophe.

Purolator III: Rise of the Drones (1)

Peter Kingsbury (3046159) | about 8 months ago | (#45573681)

It's almost like they're building a network... in the sky...

Score: 5 Bullshit! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45573697)

I really don't know what Bezo's motivation is for this "revelation". But, this "plan" for drone deliveries is NOT going to happen! Never. I'll even wager that they won't even have drone use inside the distribution center campus!

This story is some sort of red herring.

P.S. Wasn't there just a story of some Australian college student trying to launch just such a system for text books? Yep! Here it is. [gizmag.com]

So (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45573699)

Everyone needs to live within a 30 minute drone flight from an Amazon warehouse? Or will there be magical 3D printers that can make anything every 10 city blocks and magical unicorn drones that have failsafe batteries and willl never crash into people or each other.... to deliver baubles.

Will Amazon ever post a profit again? (2)

JoeyRox (2711699) | about 8 months ago | (#45573709)

Investors continue to give Bezos the benefit of the doubt, allowing him to reinvest Amazon's entire cash flow into the company with the expectation that "some day" Amazon will be able to flip an investment switch and suddenly become immensely profitable. Perhaps. But it seems to me Bezos just doesn't care about money and is using Amazon's money as his personal playpen.

Re:Will Amazon ever post a profit again? (2)

semi-extrinsic (1997002) | about 8 months ago | (#45573929)

Analysts have pointed out that the way Amazon is investing, it is clear that it intends to use it's current advantage in online retail to build a distribution network that is sufficiently advanced that any competitors will have to spend huge amounts of time/money to catch up. It's a long tail gambit.

Imagine in twenty years being able to look at your infrastructure and be confident that no-one on the planet has anything on the same scale (except perhaps the US military). Then you can start churning a profit like nobody's business (pun intended).

Re:Will Amazon ever post a profit again? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45574045)

But it seems to me Bezos just doesn't care about money and is using Amazon's money as his personal playpen.

What, would you rather he use it as his personal auto-consumer-fucking machine like most other retailers as large as Amazon, or are you happy he's actually doing something at least halfway interesting, even if it probably won't see the light of day for obvious reasons? Because seriously, this might be a stupid idea in practice, but it's still cool to think about, and that's more than the soulless conglomerate entities running Wal-Mart have done in the past thirty years.

publicity stunt (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45573723)

This is just a massive publicity stunt just ahead of Christmas. I can't believe all the media is falling for it.

Wildly impractical (1)

DrXym (126579) | about 8 months ago | (#45573727)

I could see the potential benefit of using drones to facilitate express delivery of packages between depots or designated collection points. I don't see how they are practical for delivering all the way to some random recipient. At the very least someone would have to geotag a landing spot which was free from wires and other hazards - would they trust the customer to do that or would they need someone to come out? Aside from that I'm sure there are severe limits on the size and weight of the things it can deliver. Not to mention the cost of such a service.

Awesome (1)

50000BTU_barbecue (588132) | about 8 months ago | (#45573747)

I just ordered a 30$ USB drive and hey! free 3000$ drone!

Plan B is an Autonomous Segway (1)

theodp (442580) | about 8 months ago | (#45573765)

Memories [techdirt.com] . Still pretty cool, even if the public hasn't clamored for it. :-)

News?? (1)

Dcnjoe60 (682885) | about 8 months ago | (#45573799)

If the story has been run on 60 Minutes, it's hardly "News for Nerds" any more. After it has already been disseminated to the general public through, why would it be newsworthy here? And yes, I know that not everybody is in the US, nor did they see 60 Minutes last night, but really, if CBS already ran this story, why is /. ?

Re:News?? (1)

MightyYar (622222) | about 8 months ago | (#45574145)

Isn't there a 40-and-over rule for people to watch 60 minutes?

I see a new resurgence coming. (1)

Virtucon (127420) | about 8 months ago | (#45573813)

In Skeet/Trap shooting skills. Instead of clay pigeons it'll be Amazon drones.

Re:I see a new resurgence coming. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45574157)

In Skeet/Trap shooting skills. Instead of clay pigeons it'll be Amazon drones.

It is interesting how many people here, on a US centric site, immediately talks about bringing out the guns and shooting at the thing. In local discussions (Scandinavian) I haven't seen this come up even once.

Considerations. (1)

lionchild (581331) | about 8 months ago | (#45573855)

1.) What types of weather will these deliveries fly in?
2.) Will Amazon be trying to hire away remote pilots from the US Air Force, or will the US Air Force be recruiting from Amazon?
3.) You thought overnight shipping was expensive.......

Things to think about.

In all seriousness.. (2)

lionchild (581331) | about 8 months ago | (#45573897)

If private organizations can't use drones to help with natural disasters, such as those in Colorado, how do you suppose this will get approved to fly near local airports and various cities and towns won't outlaw the flying of drones?

Of course, there's always the question: How do you deliver to high-rise apartments and other high-density dwellings?

"4-5 Years" (5, Informative)

FuzzNugget (2840687) | about 8 months ago | (#45573921)

For the uninitiated, that's marketingese for "we have no fucking clue."

bummer (0)

StripedCow (776465) | about 8 months ago | (#45573963)

but Bezos predicts it'll be available to the public in the next 4-5 years.

In the next 4-5 years they will be obsoleted by 3d printers that can print stuff in our own home.

60 Minutes & Employment (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45574017)

Last week, Lara Logan was given an indefinite leave of absence(read fired) for not properly vetting a source for a Bengazi story that turned out to have falsifications in it due to a lying source.

What's going to happen next week, when the 60 Minutes bosses realize that this reporter was totally duped by Bezo PR hoax and reported utter fantasy and bullshit as fact? Did they fact check ANY of this? Did they contact anyone outside of Amazon to see if this was even possible?

This old dude needs to be shit-canned. At least Lara was a looker.

30 minute delivery? (2, Insightful)

cjjjer (530715) | about 8 months ago | (#45574069)

From what I have read the drones can only deliver anywhere within a 10 mile radius of a fulfillment center. I am not anywhere near a fulfillment center so I am not sure how practical these would be. Unless they plan on building thousands of these centers all over the US.

Re:30 minute delivery? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45574127)

Would they need to? Given how urbanized the US is, I think they could cover quite a bit with one centre in each state capital plus another dozen or two in the remaining major cities. That's nothing, at least on Amazon's scale.

BULL**** (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45574113)

Probably pie in the sky bull.
If not I will be buying a rifle to shoot the pests.

Towns (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45574119)

Yeah, the kind of places that offer bounties for shooting down drones will likely never see services like this. Given the range these things will likely have, even in 4-5 (10-15) years, your delivery range will be limited to a few dozen miles, at best, from a properly-equipped distribution node -- and let's not kid ourselves by thinking that all nodes will be equipped with these. You might -- might -- see this in major metropolitan centers like NYC... definitely not in Bumfuck, AL.

Target Practice (1)

RotateLeftByte (797477) | about 8 months ago | (#45574183)

These things would be just the job for that in some parts of the US given the number of holes you see in road signs.
A few 12bore blasts and they would be landfill.

with the millions of guns available and people not wanting Big Bro spying on them these will soon bite the dust in more ways than one.

 

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